New cafe in Hotham Park – but not until 2015

A FIRST step has been taken to build a new cafe in Hotham Park.

Councillors have agreed the procedures to enable the permanent eating house to be constructed in the popular open space in Bognor Regis.

But the initial customers are unlikely to be enjoying its food before spring 2015.

The agreement to proceed with the latest plans for the restaurant were agreed on Tuesday by Arun District Council’s Bognor Regis regeneration sub-committee.

Cllr Francis Oppler (LD, Orchard) said: “It’s a logistical and practical impossibility to have anything ready before then. I wish I was wrong.

“That is one of the prices we are currently paying because of the previous scheme falling through.”

Council senior regeneration officer Caroline Gosford said every attempt was being made to speed up the procedures in getting designs drawn, put out to tender and applications to run the business received.

Arun ditched its previous partner in the project, Pistachios in the Park, recently because the council was unhappy with the progress being made.

This has left the park with only refreshments being sold from the boating lake kiosk by Inspire Leisure.

That situation will continue during next year. But an Arun assistant director, Karl Roberts, said: “We are looking with Inspire Leisure to see how they can enhance the service.”

The sub-committee agreed the new cafe would offer hot and cold food, have room for 30 customers inside and be open all year. Its main hours will be 9am-6pm, with the scope to open later in the summer.

The location has been moved slightly to west of the boating lake to take away less of the events area.

Denise Vine, Arun’s senior economic development officer, said the specification would see the building designed to be sympathetic to the park and Hotham Park House.

It will be built by the council and offered with a 20 year lease at some £25,000 a year.

The sub-committee backed an appeal by Cllr Roger Nash (L, Pevensey) for public consultation about the plans.

“The quality of what is going to be built is going to be very important. Any design should be put out to consultation when the time comes,” he said.

Cllr Trevor Bence (C, Pevensey), the sub-committee’s chairman, said he was committed tothat.

“So many times a decision is made without public involvement. That detaches them. I don’t want to do that.”

He called for the quality of food to be given a high rating when the operator was chosen.